Tools & Hardware

Today’s mini mission

Declutter and rearrange the work bench and tool chest. ~ Most homes have a place to store the home maintenance gear. And typically when catering to home maintenance, hardware comes in multiples and these can mound up or not get put away properly when a task is complete. This area isn’t too messy in our home, even though we have been doing lots of little DIY tasks of late. But a little tidying and tweaking never goes astray.

This brings to light an area of our homes where we often cater for the “I might need it someday.” situation the most. Now I can’t give individual advice on what tools are most often used for all people. There are the obvious ones of course, screwdrivers, hammer, wrenches, pliers, basic drill and bits etc., but some people are handier than others so do much more home and vehicle maintenance.

What we as individuals have to figure out is what is useful often enough to us to justify the space taken up in our homes. Outside of that I would suggest hiring or borrowing to suit your needs. The problem with this is that many tools are so inexpensive that we would rather have them on hand than have to go to the expense and/or inconvenience to acquire them through hiring or borrowing.

Since moving into our new apartment my husband and I have been doing more DIY stuff then we ever have before. As a result my husband often laments having decluttered some of our tools in the past. When this occurs I remind him that we do not have the space to store them and this phase of extra DIY will likely pass and that there are always ways to improvise. And improvise we have. The issue with the endless variety of specialised tools out there, just like kitchen implements, is that owning them is very well and good if you are a handyman, chef or avid hobbyist, but for the average person all these specialist tools just end up being space wasters.

Similarly all those tiny bits and pieces that go along with home maintenance ~ screws, nails, dowels, washers, drill bits, drywall plugs, picture hooks… can begin to get out of hand very quickly. Even and especially if you only do a small amount of maintenance. This is because most hardware stores only carry these items in bulk. One of our readers mentioned last week how the Restore shop that she acquires these items from sells them individually ~ how great would that be? Unfortunately this uncommon so for most people all I can suggest is to buy the smallest quantity in the most general size that you can get away with. Don’t get lured by the more economical bulk buy. Investigate all the hardware stores in your area to see who caters to this the best for your needs. And as mentioned above, share between friends and family.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. This is one thing I dread about getting my own home. It seems everyone I know has a huuuge toolbox somewhere that is full to the brim with odds and ends including rusty tools and bits of string that rarely, if ever, gets used. I actually know someone who rarely did these types of jobs himself, yet decided to upgrade his already big toolbox to an ever bigger one which is now almost up to the top of my leg in height, and did not go through any of the items to check if they were actually useful to him, but simply dumped them into his new, bigger container where that stuff has remained ever since.

    I absolutely dread that we will end up with something similar, although, in recent years furniture I have bought was put together with a single allen key which gives me hope! I just hope that having a minimalist outlook and not needing or wanting lots of furniture or 101 pictures on the walls will vastly reduce that prospective tool/junk box I fear so much!

    • Hi Jane, my first advice is that there is no point in worrying about something that may never happen. We have always had a tool chest and some nails etc but the quantities are under control. Just stick with your minimalist tendencies and be very selective if the time comes.

  2. We have a set of screwdrivers at home. My husband wants to buy a set of tools for home ie battery drill, hammer etc but I put my foot down because we already own enough tools to build a house that we keep at our business workshop. I feel we don’t need a set of duplicates here 365 days of the year when DIY happens occasionally. I think he wants to buy one of those mechanics tool chests to store it in but I remain adamant that we can just bring home what we need as we need it. I think it stems from a few frustrated trips back to work on a weekend to get an item he has overlooked to bring home from a project.

    • Good for you Moni, keep that foot down. This is exactly the situation I was thinking of where convenience can overrule minimalism. I thought about buying my daughters partner a basic tool kit for his birthday but she insisted he would rather a gift certificate for his favourite gaming store. I ending up just giving him the cash to buy whatever he wanted. It is a long way to our house to borrow tools though but their car and motorbike have a small set of very basic tools that they can always use.

      • Colleen – sometimes an excuse to visit to borrow stuff, is a good enough excuse. I can remember my husband buying me a vacuum cleaner as a gift once upon a time and being very baffled by the gift that equalled ‘work’. Fortunately he is much wiser these days.

  3. Colleen – just an idea, is there a building superintendent in your apartment building you could borrow a few tools off? Or request on freecycle?

  4. Our shed has gotten way out of hand and we have absolutely got to dig in and get it cleaned and organized! One thing that drives me bananas is when we buy a piece of furniture and it comes with its own little tool to assemble. In addition to having a complete set of those (and I realize not everyone does), we must have 5 extras. Ugh! Off to the donation bin!

    • Michelle – we had a tidy-up, clear-out of ours last weekened, it didn’t take long once we dug in. I suspect a few items that were destined for ‘out’ didn’t actually ‘out’ and he was a bit offended when I pointed out that he had more car cleaning products than I had hair products, so I don’t know if I’ll get invited back to help next time.

    • Hi Michelle, Allen keys have been decluttering in our house more than once. They must be one of the most over produced tools out there.

      • That’s right – I couldn’t remember the name of those tools.

        Moni – excellent job! And I love your “hair product” comment. ha ha!

        • Michelle – he’s bought himself an Allen Key tool which has all the sizes on it, it folds up like a Swiss Army knife, so we know any ransoms we have lying around are surplus and there is always the right size one in the drawer.

          • Oooooh! I’ve seen those and think they are totally cool! I’m kind of a gadget junkie. We have a sort of a “wallet” thing with loose allen keys in it, but the knife tool is neat. With the wallet, you have to remember to put the key back. With the knife, they stay where they belong. Very cool.

            And, apparently we are expecting snow(!), which may not be good to try to clean out the shed. Drat.

          • We also have one of those Moni.

  5. Like others have said, this is something I did not want to have to do, but since I bought a house I have to do much more DIY maintenance than I’d sometimes like.

  6. My husband used to be a builder. We have a 15 X 36 ft room under the high side of the house that is full of tools, nails, you name it. He is 74. I often think how I dread having to get rid of all those things should something happen to him. But there’s no way he would get rid of it, and he DOES still use a lot of the stuff, but we don’t need it all, I’m sure. I would love to have a place in that cool, basement type room to store my canned goods and canning jars, but there is no room and it would be covered in sawdust.

    • Hi Brenda I wonder how long it will be before he cuts a finger off on the circular saw. My dad almost did it once when he was young and then lost the end of his thumb at around your husbands age. My Godfather lost his about two weeks later. He was a little older than my father. My dad has since give most of his tools to my younger brother. There are also Man Shed Groups that tools can be donated to.

  7. That picture scared me so badly I may never go shopping again. My own tool kit is very small, a hammer, a screwdriver with changeable heads, pliers, crazy glue, duct tape, W-D 40 and anything more than that gets hired done or I rent for a day.

  8. Late to the party – but best news? My work now allows your website, so my comments might return to greater frequency.

    SO… I have a hardware drawer, with a toolbox in the garage with surplus stuff from my floristry course (which includes wire cutters and pliers for that specific purpose).

    Anyhow, I regularly audit what I have, but I do find it hard to ‘throw out’ stuff, as you never know when you need a random screw that’s in the tiny jar (these are ones that aren’t from the handful of packets I’ve bought in recent 2 years or so). The fact it’s contained in a drawer (the same size of drawer that houses all my socks) I’m pretty impressed… And I can get pretty handy with what little I have too!